“The Story of Calisto” – Ovid

by richibi


   Jupiter and Callisto (1611 – 1613) 


            Peter Paul Rubens





after having read Homer’s Iliad, the 

greatest work of fiction, to my mind, 

ever told, resounding through the 

centuries and millennia with power,

pathos, and profound humanity, I 

found it hard for one reason or 

another to complete other 

acclaimed epics, Virgil’s Aeneid,

for instance, too brimming with 

bombast and bravado, much like

many American war movies,

wherein the Americans win every

conflict, whether or not they’ve 

indeed won, all on their own, with

little acknowledgment of the other

international militaries that might’ve

also played essential roles


Ovid’s Metamorphoses, as I read 

on, is becoming more and more 

offensive because of its recurrent

abuse of women, nymphs, virgins,

so that I can no longer champion 

this work, however enthusiastic I

might’ve been at the beginning


I’m not ready to personally give it 

up, but intend to relate it in brief

segments, with perhaps, here 

and there, noteworthy verses


the myth that follows the 

transformation of Cycnus into 

a swan, and the restoration of

Earth after its near conflagration 

upon the death of Phaeton, has 

Jove / Jupiter / Zeus cast[ing] 

an eye on ev’ry diff’rent coast in 

order to ensure that all is aright,

which it is, and Nature smiles 



but he spies by chance a nymph,

a follower of Diana, virginal

goddess of the Countryside, and

despite concerns about Juno, his

goddess wife, pursues the maiden


who was easy prey, did whate’er a 

virgin cou’d … / With all her might 

against his force … / But how can 

mortal maids contend with Jove?


following which Diana arrives with 

her train of nubile followers, to the 

dismay of the young victim, who 

could only try to hide her shame, 

which her altered demeanour 

must’ve somewhat, it is supposed, 



                   How in the look does conscious guilt appear! 
                   Slowly she mov’d, and loiter’d in the rear; 
                   Nor lightly tripp’d, nor by the Goddess ran, 
                   As once she us’d, the foremost of the train. 


but now the moon had nine times 

lost her light, and any doubt about 

her condition was erased, so that 

Diana, unforgiving, a not uncommon 

reaction, I’ve found, among women, 

banished her to eventually alone 

give birth to a son


meanwhile Juno, now doubly 

incensed – This boy, she rails, shall 

stand a living mark, to prove / My 

husband’s baseness and the strumpet’s

love – turns the wretched mom into a



but when the son had fifteen summers 

told, and came inadvertently upon this 

beast while in the forest, unaware it was 

his mother, and to protect himself, he


                                    aim’d a pointed arrow at her breast,  
                   And would have slain his mother in the beast;  
                   But Jove forbad, and snatch’d ’em through  
                   In whirlwinds up to Heav’n, and fix’d ’em there!


where now we know them as either 

the Great Bear and the Little Bear, 

Ursa Major and Ursa Minor or, 

more familiarly, as the Big Dipper 

and the Little Dipper


who could ‘a’ ever thunk it



R ! chard